Rick Kersbergen, a sustainable dairy and forage systems specialist with University of Maine Cooperative Extension, will give the keynote talk at the annual Vermont Organic Dairy Producers Conference.

Kersbergen will describe nutritional strategies for optimal herd health and performance at the March 9 conference at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center. He will give a second talk on Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, a national program that helps train new graziers through a combination of on-farm employment and mentorship.

The conference is co-sponsored by University of Vermont (UVM) Extension's Northwest Crops and Soils Program and NOFA Vermont's Organic Dairy and Livestock Technical Assistance Program. The registration fee, due by March 1, is $25 and includes lunch and conference materials.

Register online at www.regonline.com/organicdairy or send a check, made payable to University of Vermont, to UVM Extension, attn: Organic Dairy Conference, 278 South Main St., Ste. 2, St. Albans, VT 05478. Anyone requiring a disability-related accommodation to attend is asked to contact Susan Brouillette at (802) 524-6501, ext. 432, by Feb. 23.

As a follow up to Kersbergen's keynote address, organic dairy farmers Brent Beidler, Randolph Center, and Earl Fournier, West Swanton, will share the nutritional strategies they follow for their livestock. Heather Darby, UVM Extension agronomist; Sarah Flack, a grazing consultant from Fairfield; and Caleb Goossen, UVM plant and soil science graduate student; will provide updates on research projects focusing on grass-fed milk, annual forages, pasture fertility and supplemental feeding strategies.

Stephanie Walsh, NOFA Vermont, will give an overview of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program's outdoor access (OA) requirements. She will be joined by John Porter, University of New Hampshire emeritus dairy specialist, who will discuss creative facility options to help farmers meet these requirements. Organic dairy farmers Geordie Lynd, Walden, and Henry Pearl, Danville, will describe changes they have made to their farms to meet both OA requirements and required agricultural practices under Vermont's new water quality law.


Debra Marie Heleba